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Monday, October 19, 2020

Haze and gusts limit air traffic

What’s Up

by LeRoy Cook


The weather didn’t cooperate for flying during a lot of this past week, with wind gusts to 40 knots and smoke from Colorado wildfires adding haze to the atmosphere. Still and all, some flights were gotten in. We waited for the wind to abate late in the day, flying just before darkness set in. 


About the only transient traffic I saw was a Piper Arrow making the VOR-A instrument approach and a Cessna Skyhawk flying the RNAV-18 GPS approach. Locally, Jeremie Platt flew his Grumman Tiger and several Cessna 150 sorties came and went.


As we progress into fall, and eventually winter, the days are getting shorter. Come November 1, we’ll lose the ability to fly in daylight after work, when the long-delayed return to Standard Time takes place. Better prepare to get up early to take advance of whatever daylight is still available.


Venerable old Mooney Aircraft, based in Kerrville, Texas, has been wrested from the clutches of Chinese investors and is now owned by American interests. Mooney has had hard times, what with the Covid-induced recession in new plane sales, but the workers in the Texas hill country plant are inured to such hardship. They’ve been laid off, then called back, then laid off again, over the years. For now, they’re making vital spare parts for the existing fleet, and waiting for orders for new aircraft to pick up.


Used plane sales are spotty; the big overpriced iron is only trading at steep discounts, while useful utility airplanes like reliable old Cessna Skyhawks have actually appreciated. An airplane is still a tool, and if tools are needed to do a job, they’ll always been worth the price. Right now, travel without undue expose to Covid risk is attractive, making little airplanes a good option.


Our question of the week was about whether there had ever been a pilot licensed to fly who has no arms—not just a foot or hand missing, but no upper limbs. The answer, as Butch Leuthart of Rolla confirmed, is yes. Jessica Cox was born armless but grew up using her feet as hands. She flies her Ercoupe crosslegged and does just fine. For next week, does anyone know why the Light Sport Airplane category has a weight limit of exactly 1320 pounds? Send your answers to